When we found out Finisar Corp. would be coming to Sherman to produce vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers for Apple products, I knew I had a lot to learn in order to write about what they would be doing and how it would impact Texoma.
The first thing I discovered — through researching VCSELs on the internet — was that the acronym was pronounced like the word “vixel.” Armed with that knowledge I felt like I was doing good as I began interviewing Finisar and Apple executives for my stories last month.
But those stories just scratched the surface of what Finisar will be doing at its new Sherman facility in the former MEMC building and what it’ll mean for Texoma. To delve deeper into those topics, we’ll have a special section leading Sunday’s paper featuring numerous stories on what the company does and how local leaders expect the county’s newest corporate citizen will impact the community.
We’ll also have a number of pictures of VCSEL production our reporter Drew Smith recently got to take inside Finisar’s Allen facility.
Drew and I got an exclusive tour of the company’s production facilities last week, and it was an experience I don’t think either of us will ever forget. Nearly all of the VCSEL production is done in a clean, sterile environment, so we had to suit up in what Finisar personnel called a “rabbit suit.”
When I first heard the term, I pictured Ralphie’s rabbit costume in the movie “A Christmas Story” but these “rabbit suits” felt like wearing hospital scrubs that covered our entire bodies. They had hoods — with no rabbit ears — that went over our heads and snapped into the zip-up suits. We also had to wear bootees over our shoes, rubber gloves that adhered over the sleeves and masks and glasses to completely cover our faces.
A Finisar executive explained they maintain a controlled environment to exclude all foreign material — like dust and particulars — from the production process to ensure quality of the complicated high-tech devices used.
Everyone that worked in the VCSEL production area also had to wear rabbit suits, so for me the facility had a “Star Trek” spaceship vibe to it. And considering some of the things VCSELs can do, they’ll probably be all over spaceships if we ever build ones like in “Star Trek.”
Happy birthday Friday to Patty Moss and Sara Mullins, both of Denison; Donald Hubbard of Allen; Glenna Eugene, Barbara Jones, Alyce Boatright, John Hain, and Johnnie Smith, all of Sherman; Lauren Hughes of Whitesboro; and Jennifer Wallace of Luella.